The top cricket teams in the Illawarra could be set for a new challenge if a proposed knockout one-day competition is established.
The competition would see clubs from the four associations within the Greater Illawarra Zone, Illawarra, South Coast, Shoalhaven and Highlands, compete in an FA Cup-style competition throughout the season.
For Illawarra premiers Balgownie, the competition would allow the side to prove they are the best team not just in the Illawarra, but the zone as a whole. Club president Jamie Fleming said his players are excited by the prospect of a new test.
"We support it 100 per cent," Fleming said. "It's a new competition, it gives teams the opportunity to play against other zones, play against other players and against different teams they haven't had a chance to compete against before.
"To have the opportunity to win this competition and be the best team out of four different zones would be great. Especially for Balgownie, we've had a good run over the last couple of years, it would be something that would reinvigorate the competition and excites me."
The competition has in-principle support from the majority of clubs within the Illawarra association, while University and Dapto have opposed it due to concerns players won't be able to commit to playing one-day matches on Sundays.
Illawarra clubs are required to express their support or opposition for the competition by Wednesday, with majority support set to clear the path for its creation. Clubs from Shoalhaven and Highlands are in support of the competition, which will likely feature prize money.
For Fleming, the allure of prize money would make players more willing to commit to playing Sunday cricket.
"It can get difficult to be motivated to play the same teams and players. Prize money would be a great incentive. From what I've heard, all the prize money would go back into the clubs, which would be significant."
The competition would enable South Coast premiers Lake Illawarra to test themselves against a wider range of opponents, having dominated the competition over the past two years.
Lakers captain Mark Ulcigrai said it would be a good opportunity to see how his side stacks up against the zone's top clubs.
"It would be a prestigious competition," Ulcigrai said. "It will show how strong the four competitions are and what we're missing out on if we were a combined comp.
"We want to play hard cricket every week, it's another chance to challenge ourselves, to prove Lake Illawarra are a great club."
The competition comes amid a push for the four associations within the Greater Illawarra Zone to forge greater ties over the coming years.
Support is growing for the merger of the Illawarra and South Coast competitions, though such a union is likely a number of years away.
Fleming is confident a merger would help elevate the level of play in the region.
"It's a shame Illawarra and South Coast can't get together to create one competition," Fleming said. "A merged competition would only be good for cricket.
"To have two divisions, if you have the top four from the two comps in the first, it would make cricket more exciting and competitive in the region. It would help smaller clubs have opportunities to build the club up by playing at a more even level."
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